COVID-19 Advice for Caregivers from the Centers for Disease Control

Posted by Scott, Volunteer Mentor @IndianaScott, Fri, Mar 13 5:22am

I received this note from the CDC this morning so I wanted to pass it along here.

Caregivers: Help older adults and people with severe chronic health conditions protect themselves from COVID-19. This is especially important if you live in an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19.

Learn what actions you should take to protect and prepare your loved ones: https://bit.ly/38ofRQc

As caregivers, the realities of COVID-19 and ever-changing news can be particularly stressful. I care for my mom and my aunt who are 80 and 88 respectively. They are fit and need little actual caregiving, but even so, having to advice them and keep them supported through the social isolation keeps me constantly on my toes. Because I visit them both frequently, phone calls were always enough between visits. Now I've taught both of them use video conferencing (Face Time, Skype, What's app, etc) in the event that we can no longer visit. I'm also making sure that I don't put myself in the path of infection. I wash my hands, wash my hands, wash my hands. I'm also that voice yelling from my home office whenever a family member enters the house or uses the bathroom "Wash your hands. Use soap. Wash for 20 seconds. Sing Happy Birthday twice." They have to stay healthy so I can stay healthy.

How are coping with COVID-19 and caring for someone?

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I also saw a hint on Facebook that saying the Lord's Prayer was equivalent to the Happy Birthday song 2 times. Sounds good to me.

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@colleenyoung

As caregivers, the realities of COVID-19 and ever-changing news can be particularly stressful. I care for my mom and my aunt who are 80 and 88 respectively. They are fit and need little actual caregiving, but even so, having to advice them and keep them supported through the social isolation keeps me constantly on my toes. Because I visit them both frequently, phone calls were always enough between visits. Now I've taught both of them use video conferencing (Face Time, Skype, What's app, etc) in the event that we can no longer visit. I'm also making sure that I don't put myself in the path of infection. I wash my hands, wash my hands, wash my hands. I'm also that voice yelling from my home office whenever a family member enters the house or uses the bathroom "Wash your hands. Use soap. Wash for 20 seconds. Sing Happy Birthday twice." They have to stay healthy so I can stay healthy.

How are coping with COVID-19 and caring for someone?

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Coleen, thank you for this post.
I'm the primary caregiver for my wife, diagnosed with multiple myeloma. I have applied for and received FMLA from my employer. They have been flexible so far with me working non-standard hours in office and home, but recently demanded I work 5 hours in the office in addition to 3 hours at home. I explained my wifes fragile physical state and tried to negotiate more at home hours but they refused. With covid-19 I want to go back to them with this serious issue and the potential for me to pass it or other flu like illness to her, but an reluctant to because my insurance is with them and I can't risk that either. What do you or any other member think would be the best way to approach this? Thanks for any insight.

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@kandc317

Coleen, thank you for this post.
I'm the primary caregiver for my wife, diagnosed with multiple myeloma. I have applied for and received FMLA from my employer. They have been flexible so far with me working non-standard hours in office and home, but recently demanded I work 5 hours in the office in addition to 3 hours at home. I explained my wifes fragile physical state and tried to negotiate more at home hours but they refused. With covid-19 I want to go back to them with this serious issue and the potential for me to pass it or other flu like illness to her, but an reluctant to because my insurance is with them and I can't risk that either. What do you or any other member think would be the best way to approach this? Thanks for any insight.

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@kandc317 Has your company indicated the basis for the demand they are placing on you? Is what they want you to accomplish with additional hours at work due to a requirement to interface with others on a specific issue/project, during "normal" work hours? If so, would a virtual meeting suffice, or is "hands-on" the only way to accomplish that? Have you been able to appeal this decision to a superior of yours, or to HR? It seems grossly unfair to you and to your wife, definitely. It also presents a sticky situation, as you want to be understanding but also ask them to understand your situation. Are you aware of any other employees with such a situation there, and what has happened to them?
I hope you will return and let us know how it all turns out.
Ginger

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@kandc317

Coleen, thank you for this post.
I'm the primary caregiver for my wife, diagnosed with multiple myeloma. I have applied for and received FMLA from my employer. They have been flexible so far with me working non-standard hours in office and home, but recently demanded I work 5 hours in the office in addition to 3 hours at home. I explained my wifes fragile physical state and tried to negotiate more at home hours but they refused. With covid-19 I want to go back to them with this serious issue and the potential for me to pass it or other flu like illness to her, but an reluctant to because my insurance is with them and I can't risk that either. What do you or any other member think would be the best way to approach this? Thanks for any insight.

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Hi @kandc317 That is a tough one! I was let go from two jobs due to caregiving responsibilities, so I guess my only suggestion would be to do so very carefully. At the first job I asked to work through lunch so I could catch a train 30 minutes earlier in the evening to avoid paying time and a half to the care company. They said no! The second one simply told me one day 'we don't want someone on our team who has conflicting demands on his mind other than just the job'.

I would say fact-based as much as you can might help. Perhaps (if you haven't already) provide the HR person with a specific timeline of your wife's needs and how their demand conflicts with her needs? Plus right now I would hope HR departments would be extra amenable to needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. I hope so!

I hope it goes well for you! Tough spot for you for sure!

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@gingerw & @IndianaScott, thanks for the recommendations. Honesty and candor is the only way I approach all serious matters so I see I'm in good company. It seems the protections that FMLA are supposed to afford me have actually put me in the crosshairs. My business is family owned and the CEO is actually a cancer survivor so this unsympathetic stance seems so odd. The ownership has jumped through so many hoops to keep several less dedicated employees onboard but that doesn't apparently apply to me. Time theft is also rampant here so it's especially painful when I ask for so little and get nothing. There is a small component that requires me to be on-site, although the 5 required hours daily is totally arbitrary and unnecessary. I've been on this schedule for a couple of weeks now and guess what I do? Right. I sit in my office and do my work (I'm essentially a 1 person dept.) Most recently last week a member of my team was approved to work from home 100% due to her children were in the same school system as 2 others that were tested positive for covid-19, although they attended different schools. Very frustrating considering children are not considered at high risk for this illness but my wife certainly is.
It's clear from both of your responses that I will have to state my case as succinctly as possible to the ownership. The facts are definitely in my favor but i know I will not be prepared to accept anything from anyone if it doesn't make sense for my wifes long term health. With her prognosis I absolutely can't risk her getting sick with this. Thanks again for listening. You've both given me some solid ideas to consider before meeting with the owners.

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@kandc317 Ive been reading all the post for you and advice . The only other thing I can suggest is that if you had or could call her Dr and tell him the situation maybe he could advice you or the company of your wife,s condition as to why you need to be more vigilant at working from home. It might be worth a chance.

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@colleenyoung

As caregivers, the realities of COVID-19 and ever-changing news can be particularly stressful. I care for my mom and my aunt who are 80 and 88 respectively. They are fit and need little actual caregiving, but even so, having to advice them and keep them supported through the social isolation keeps me constantly on my toes. Because I visit them both frequently, phone calls were always enough between visits. Now I've taught both of them use video conferencing (Face Time, Skype, What's app, etc) in the event that we can no longer visit. I'm also making sure that I don't put myself in the path of infection. I wash my hands, wash my hands, wash my hands. I'm also that voice yelling from my home office whenever a family member enters the house or uses the bathroom "Wash your hands. Use soap. Wash for 20 seconds. Sing Happy Birthday twice." They have to stay healthy so I can stay healthy.

How are coping with COVID-19 and caring for someone?

Jump to this post

Thank you for making me smile. My husband teaches at a university and I have been echoing you!🙌👐🤝🤞
“Wash you hands.” (they do not wear masks)Clean the steering wheel, clean you computer keyboard .
Do you think I am a nag?
YES!

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@kandc317

@gingerw & @IndianaScott, thanks for the recommendations. Honesty and candor is the only way I approach all serious matters so I see I'm in good company. It seems the protections that FMLA are supposed to afford me have actually put me in the crosshairs. My business is family owned and the CEO is actually a cancer survivor so this unsympathetic stance seems so odd. The ownership has jumped through so many hoops to keep several less dedicated employees onboard but that doesn't apparently apply to me. Time theft is also rampant here so it's especially painful when I ask for so little and get nothing. There is a small component that requires me to be on-site, although the 5 required hours daily is totally arbitrary and unnecessary. I've been on this schedule for a couple of weeks now and guess what I do? Right. I sit in my office and do my work (I'm essentially a 1 person dept.) Most recently last week a member of my team was approved to work from home 100% due to her children were in the same school system as 2 others that were tested positive for covid-19, although they attended different schools. Very frustrating considering children are not considered at high risk for this illness but my wife certainly is.
It's clear from both of your responses that I will have to state my case as succinctly as possible to the ownership. The facts are definitely in my favor but i know I will not be prepared to accept anything from anyone if it doesn't make sense for my wifes long term health. With her prognosis I absolutely can't risk her getting sick with this. Thanks again for listening. You've both given me some solid ideas to consider before meeting with the owners.

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@kandc317 [As today is 3/17, I can't help but wonder if this is a significant date for you?] When you do have a meeting with whomever in this company, keeping to facts will help. Being a primary caregiver for someone who is at risk, definitely should be a consideration for your company. As @lioness mentioned, perhaps being able to present documentation from your wife's medical team may help your cause. If you have been a long-time employee, I hope work history there will speak to your benefit.
Ginger

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@lioness

@kandc317 Ive been reading all the post for you and advice . The only other thing I can suggest is that if you had or could call her Dr and tell him the situation maybe he could advice you or the company of your wife,s condition as to why you need to be more vigilant at working from home. It might be worth a chance.

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Thank you. I will be asking for a letter of support from her MM specialist immediately. Any way to better inform my employer's knowledge of my wifes cancer makes it a more conscious decision on their part to ignore our needs which I don't believe they'll do.
Our owners are usually good people. I just don't think they understand how complex her cancer is since it's considered rare.
Thank you so much for the motivation to continue being an advocate for my wifes health!

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@gingerw

@kandc317 [As today is 3/17, I can't help but wonder if this is a significant date for you?] When you do have a meeting with whomever in this company, keeping to facts will help. Being a primary caregiver for someone who is at risk, definitely should be a consideration for your company. As @lioness mentioned, perhaps being able to present documentation from your wife's medical team may help your cause. If you have been a long-time employee, I hope work history there will speak to your benefit.
Ginger

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I am following @lioness recommendation and thanks for you acknowledging too. I have worked here for enough years (7) that they know how dedicated and productive I've been. They certainly know that my insurance is paramount right now. In some ways the FMLA has muddied the waters. At this point it's not working out as favorably as I'd like but I need to research it a little more before I make any changes in my status. Thanks again for your comments. They are very helpful.

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@kandc317

Coleen, thank you for this post.
I'm the primary caregiver for my wife, diagnosed with multiple myeloma. I have applied for and received FMLA from my employer. They have been flexible so far with me working non-standard hours in office and home, but recently demanded I work 5 hours in the office in addition to 3 hours at home. I explained my wifes fragile physical state and tried to negotiate more at home hours but they refused. With covid-19 I want to go back to them with this serious issue and the potential for me to pass it or other flu like illness to her, but an reluctant to because my insurance is with them and I can't risk that either. What do you or any other member think would be the best way to approach this? Thanks for any insight.

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Hi @kandc317. I'm sorry to hear that you're going through all of this. Having frail elderly family members that live with us, I definitely understand the concerns. We are taking extra precautions as well.

Having been a manager in large corporations, I wanted to see if I could provide some thoughts from the employer's perspective. While I am certain that you are a hard worker and very good at what you do, I wonder if while working at home, someone raised concerns about your productivity and whether you were focused enough on the job. (The tip-off for this is that they were letting you work from home fairly freely and then changed their minds). This may be perception rather than reality, because some managers have a hard time seeing that you are working if they can't see your smiling face at your desk. It might be a good idea to have a conversation with your manager to ask if there were concerns that led to you being asked to spend more time in the office, and talk about how you can address those concerns. Depending on the nature of the concerns that were raised, they might be willing to discuss more work from home now, or they might not, but at least you would know where you stand. As an aside, try not to get defensive or argue about the concerns – their perception is their reality – so instead you should focus on what you can do to change the perception.

If they are still allowing you to work from home, you may want to ask if you could shift those hours to only come in on certain days, which might reduce exposure somewhat (not leaving the house on the days that you work from home, for example). You might also ask if you can use tools like Skype or Zoom to attend meetings by video-conference. You may want to start over-communicating when working from home so that people recognize the effort you are putting in and that you are actually in your home office working when you are not in the company office.

In my experience, some companies have a culture that is supportive of working from home and naturally trusts that people are doing their jobs even if they can't watch them do it. Other companies struggle with this trust, so as an employee, you want to do what you can to build that trust so people say "of course he's working" even if they can't see you at the moment.

The other option is to use your FMLA leave to just take time off but in most cases, that leave is unpaid, which can be a financial challenge, so working this out with your employer is probably better. That said, FMLA does at least protect your job for the time that you are off.

Best wishes to you and your wife. Hopefully this situation will pass quickly but in the meantime, it's certainly challenging.

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@coloradogirl, thanks for your insight. I have worked at both large corporations and small companies and without a doubt unfairness and favoritism are alive and well in both/all business environments. I would have to say it's generally seems worse in a smaller company because it's so much harder to hide.
After careful consideration of your comments i'm nearly certain that my immediate issue is the toxic director I work for. Our owners like him but he is anything but professional and doesn't know how to treat employees with respect. Uses the boss card a lot and is probably the biggest time theft person in the company. He even runs a separate personal business on company time. But, they are not willing to check him at any turn.
I did get some good news late yesterday that due to the virus, they had to let most of our professionals work from home, at least for this week which further proves my point about it was always an arbitrary decision on my directors part to disallow my request for more home work until the flood gates opened. It was great today to be home with my wife as she has been having much pain as I described earlier. I'm being as compliant as I can to prolong this situation although I wish it didn't happen as the result of a serious pandemic negatively affecting so many people.

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@kandc317

@coloradogirl, thanks for your insight. I have worked at both large corporations and small companies and without a doubt unfairness and favoritism are alive and well in both/all business environments. I would have to say it's generally seems worse in a smaller company because it's so much harder to hide.
After careful consideration of your comments i'm nearly certain that my immediate issue is the toxic director I work for. Our owners like him but he is anything but professional and doesn't know how to treat employees with respect. Uses the boss card a lot and is probably the biggest time theft person in the company. He even runs a separate personal business on company time. But, they are not willing to check him at any turn.
I did get some good news late yesterday that due to the virus, they had to let most of our professionals work from home, at least for this week which further proves my point about it was always an arbitrary decision on my directors part to disallow my request for more home work until the flood gates opened. It was great today to be home with my wife as she has been having much pain as I described earlier. I'm being as compliant as I can to prolong this situation although I wish it didn't happen as the result of a serious pandemic negatively affecting so many people.

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Good morning @kandc317 Your comment about your boss struck a solid chord with me! I recently read a study showing more workers leave because of their direct boss than any other reason! And it was W-A-Y out in front in first place.

At this point I might suggest you see how the situation in your state/county/city changes. It is changing on an hourly basis in many cities right now I know. A suburb of Chicago just went on lockdown ala San Francisco and many industries are sending out their own guidelines for how to operate in these weird times. Our daughter's an attorney and they are getting daily updates from court districts as they slow things and offer automatic deadline extensions, etc.

How is your wife doing with all this?

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@IndianaScott. Thanks for the update. My company while small has significant tech capabilities as well as established positions that are 100% remote-in my department! Yet another reason for enabling me to also do it instead of making it difficult for me. When the pandemic plateaus if not before I'll have a list of advantages to the business for me working remotely to share. My wife is ok although at her treatment tomorrow they already called and let us know that no visitors are allowed in the treatment rooms. My wife gets to treatment in an ambulance on a stretcher having been on her back for some 7 months, so her being immobile without a caregiver is especially stressful. We'll get it done though. Treatments last 4-5 hours. Thanks again for your help.

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